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May 26, 2002

Full Issue

Dear Readers:

Sometimes there are just a lot of new topics raised, and a lot of news made, in themail, and all I have to do is step out of the way. This is one of those issues.

Gary Imhoff 


Boys Town Continues Its Assault on Democracy
Kenan Jarboe, Chair, ANC 6B, 

Apparently it was not enough for the anti-democracy leadership of Boys Town to sue citizens of the District of Columbia for exercising their Constitutional right to petition their government. Now they are mounting a full scale assault on DC home rule. The Congressman from Boys Town, Lee Terry, is asking the House DC Appropriations Subcommittee to overturn a Board of Zoning Adjustment decision that went against Boys Town — citing our supposed irrationality as grounds for this blatantly undemocratic action. The arrogance of this act is mind boggling — matched only by the disrespect it shows for the citizens of the District of Columbia. What is next? Maybe Boys Town would like to open up a nightclub and will ask Congress to grant them a liquor license?

I call upon Boys Town, and their zoning attorneys, to immediately repudiate this loathsome action. It is my intention to place this matter on the ANC 6B agenda for our June meeting and to invite Boys Town and their attorneys to explain their behavior.


DC Office of Tax and Revenue 
Jack McKay, 

The DC Tax Office appears to be taking management lessons from the DMV. I, and several others in this area, received nasty notices “of Delinquency and Final Bill for Delinquent Real Property Tax Prior to Tax Sale.” That sort of missive gets your attention. Of course our property taxes had in fact

been paid, via our mortgage companies. But the Tax Office will not accept the mortgage company's monthly statement as any evidence that the taxes have been paid; they want photocopies of the check, nothing less. The citizen is presumed to be guilty, and must prove innocence, in this case by prevailing upon the mortgage company to provide the DC bureaucrats with the check images.

This I did, and, after allowing most of a week to pass to give the bureaucracy time to absorb the information, I called to check that my tax status had been cleared. No such thing, of course; the Tax Office still claims that my taxes are unpaid. I protested that my mortgage company had faxed the check images early in the week. Oh, the Tax Office guy said, the people who update our records haven't been in for several days. I guess I'm just supposed to hope that they show up for work sometime before my house is sold at auction. Oh yes, from the Washington Post this week: “The DC Office of Tax and Revenue, once derided for failing regularly to process or even locate tax returns, has won a national award for using technology to improve customer service.” Yeah, right.


Trees, Iowa, and Adams Morgan
Phil Carney, 

Trees: Just saw three “emergency no parking” signs put onto trees with screws, despite MPD’s claim that users are given proper tree mounting instruction by officers issuing the signs. Also just saw an estate sale sign nailed on a tree with three nails. And the alleged environment group Clean Water Action is using thumbtacks to put their signs on trees. The District can't be bothered to publicize this, but damaging a city sidewalk tree is a criminal offense punishable by a $500.00 fine.

Iowa: Sunday morning I met on the street and visited with neighbors and fellow Iowans Bill and Betty Briggs. Only after I rode away on my bike did I realize that I had been going around the neighborhood pulling down illegal public space posters and had a bag full hanging on the handlebars. Bill and Betty had been walking around the neighborhood picking up trash and Bill had a large bucket full. Seems to me, we need more people in this town from Iowa.

Adams Morgan: Biked up 18th Street, NW, to the Zoo. My mistake. Trash and graffiti blights the Marie Reed Learning Center and the rest of commercial 18th looks dirty, ugly and blighted with trash and graffiti. I was embarrassed. I’m ashamed that my next door neighborhood is allowed to look so decrepit and rundown. What is with the people of Adams Morgan?


Stein Democratic Club Endorses Williams, Mendelson
Kurt Vorndran, 

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club today endorsed Mayor Anthony Williams (D) for reelection as mayor of the District of Columbia. The Mayor, along with other declared candidates, had appeared before a general membership meeting of the Stein Democrats asking for the organization's support. Club President Kurt Vorndran stated “Mayor Williams and his administration has brought this city back to life. For our community and everyone in DC, he has help make a government that works.” The Mayor spoke of his strong record of outreach and advocacy to the GLBT community including the appointment of community leaders to various boards and commissions. At the same meeting, the Club endorsed DC Council Chairman Linda Cropp for reelection as well as At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson. “Phil Mendelson is a consistent friend of our community. We need his voice and vote on the DC Council.” Vorndran noted. Mendelson has been a leader on several concerns of the gay and lesbian community including health care and law enforcement matters.

In other action, the Club in a lopsided voice vote with over sixty persons in attendance, voted to support a proposal by Councilmember Jim Graham (D) to enact into law an office of GLBT Affairs. Currently, Mayor Williams has authorized a GLBT liaison within another office. The Graham legislation would make this post permanent and increase its resources. Mayor Williams announced his support of the Graham proposal. The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club is the largest gay/lesbian political organization for the District of Columbia and traditionally one of the most influential DC civic organizations in DC on Election Day. It is affiliated with the National Stonewall Democrats.


Mendelson Is Wrong
Paul McKenzie, 

At-Large Councilmember Mendelson left very few of us sympathetic with his attempt to strike Councilmember Schwartz's Klingle Road language out of the Budget Support Act. In the process, Mr. Mendelson mocks those who have taken bold steps to bring this issue to a conclusion, and rewrites history that Mr. Mendelson himself helped to create. First, nobody wants to “repave Klingle Valley” as Mr. Mendelson states. That proposition, to fill in Klingle valley, actually was put forth by a developer in the early 1900's, and fortunately was never adopted. Consequently, for over a century citizens have been able to enjoy Klingle valley with its attendant parkway, Klingle Road, a parkway that has become an embarrassing boondoggle as the result of poor city management and protracted delay, much of which occurred during the Marion Barry administrations.

At long last, the Council has taken bold steps to force the administration to take action. Mr. Mendelson's cry of “delay” rings hollow, indeed. Those who want to destroy historic Klingle Road are on record as being happy with the status quo, happily biding their time while Mother Nature does their job for them. Mayor Williams wrapped himself in the green of environmentalism when he announced his impolitic decision to close Klingle Road sua sponte to public motor vehicle use, yet still nothing has been done to address the public health hazards in Klingle valley. The Council's step, endorsed by an overwhelming majority, forces the administration to take action, while allowing critically needed remediation work to the sewer and storm systems, and protections against further erosion of the roadbed.

The notion that the public accepted an unlawful decision in 1995 by a DPW official to close a public road is belied by the public record and Mr. Mendelson's own actions. Former ANC Commissioner Mendelson voted against that decision to close the road, and overwhelming ANC support for opening the road continues to grow to this day. Nine ANCs and the citywide ANC Assembly have voted to restore the road. Thankfully, the Council's action will guarantee that these voices will be heard and given the great weight they deserve. Mr. Mendelson would have us believe that judgment was the cause of his recent flip-flop on the Klingle Road issue. Looks more like a convenience to us to garner political support from a few. That sort of “judgment” has to be questioned. Mendelson now takes sides with single interest activists, against the overwhelming desires of the constituents he was elected to represent.


Social Police
Tom Berry, 

I've read recently (Washington Post?; NW Current?) that the city's art galleries are committing a crime worthy of punishment. They've been directed to cease serving wine, something virtually every gallery does at openings. Wowser, this is serious stuff! You buy wine, paying the various taxes that are included in the price, serve it gratis to your clientele and are now subject to a fine. Dear God, what would the social police do if they knew we do just that in our office occasionally? Would they break through our door, tell us to cease and desist and present us with a ticket for $100 or so? And when will we be told that we can't serve, ahem, the demonic alcoholic beverages in our own homes? I'm beginning to regret admitting that I'm a child of the '60s. My generation has yet to find bottom, but it's getting closer with nonsense like this. Is this really why we have a government? A pox on the social police.


Memorial Day in Washington, District of Columbia 2002
Mark David Richards, Dupont East, 

About two years ago, Tom Sherwood reported on the District of Columbia World War Memorial in East Potomac Park on the National Mall. In 2000, an article in The Washington Post also drew attention to its need of restoration. Tom Sherwood and I coauthored a story about the Memorial for The Washington Post ( As I mentioned previously, the Noyes family played an important role in DC’s civic life. Theodore Noyes led the campaign that eventually led to the passage of the Amendment granting DC “the right to vote for President.” Frank Noyes (son of Crosby Noyes and President of The Evening Star), his wife Janet, and his son Newbold launched a District wide campaign to build the white marble Doric temple bandstand to honor DC's men and women who served the nation in the armed forces after World War One. It was completed in 1931. The war was over, but the loses left pain among the families whose sons and daughters sacrificed their lives. DC had sent the first man to war — Henry Chapman Gilbert, an African American who actively sought enlistment in the National Army (a draft army). His family lived on Park Road. DC was first in that war to implement the draft and sent 26,000 men and women, black and white. The men and women who died -- a number approximately the size of Congress — are listed on the DC World War Memorial -- integrated alphabetically. So there were two brothers — one who focused on rights, another who focused on responsibility and service, and that is the context of the story.

I have wondered about the history of the memorial, but I didn’t find anything written. During the recent protests on the Mall, I stopped by the memorial and spoke with a Park Service official. After, I wrote a brief history about it based on Star articles chronicling the effort compiled in a crumbling scrapbook at the Washingtoniana Room of the DCPL (the librarians were incredibly helpful in locating this material!). Those who built the memorial said at its dedication, “We build, and leave the still unfinished work for those who follow us to accomplish. It is a pleasing thought to believe that when many, many years have rolled over the hill and the children of our children pause a moment over the names carved on this memorial they can look about them at the things that men have sought to do and say, 'They built well.'” Today, our generation needs to restore and continue the work of a previous generation. The detailed history is at

A number of democracy and Congressional voting rights groups, including Stand Up for Democracy, DC Vote, Democracy First, are holding a Memorial Day Tribute to DC Veterans of All Wars at noon on Memorial Day. Kerwin Miller, Director, DC Veterans Affairs Office, will give the keynote address. Barbara Pittman, special assistant Executive of the Mayor, will read a mayoral proclamation. We will lay a wreath at 12:30. To learn more about the event, see


Building a Great City on the Mall
Winston Smith, 

I haven't seen any postings on the District's efforts to collect unpaid parking tickets. Have others had experiences with this collection agency? Any advice on how to deal with this would be appreciated. It's not about keeping the streets clear, actually, or even about safety. It's about MONEY, pure and simple, and it transcends administrations.

During the early 80s I saw one of the most cynical mass exercises in urban government of my life (and I'm from Maryland!). It was a weekend of rallies to honor the anniversary of Dr. King's speech, and like so many others I went down to the Mall — you know, the national, people's mall. Anyway, cars arrived in droves, most with out of state (and out of region) tags, and not knowing any better, parked around the Mall and released their exhausted passengers. No sooner had a certain concentration of cars parked than Marion's tow trucks emerged from hiding, in orderly organized ranks, and began ticketing and towing these cars! What a great welcome, on the occasion of Martin's anniversary, to the nation's capital!

One truck backed up to a motorcycle dropped its harness and started to “collect” a motorcycle — but the vehicle's rider saw this, ran back to his machine, hopped on board and roared off, to the consternation of the truck operator and the applause and cheers of us bystanders. Given the occasion, an unbelievable exercise in cynical predatory opportunism from the Barry administration. Sort of set the tone, it did, for my subsequent perceptions of urban government.


DC Parking
Bill Starrels, 

For the reader who thought the unpaid fines on the parking tickets would go away, my advice would be to negotiate with the collection agency and pay the tickets. The unpaid tickets will show up on one's credit report and will damage an otherwise clean credit report. The issue of parking enforcement and traffic flow needs improvement. The management of the ticket writers is not what it should be anywhere in the city. We can tell stories of what goes on in Georgetown. Another major problem is the lack towing of illegally parked cars during rush hour almost anywhere in the city during rush hours.

It is time for our city to get serious about enforcing the rules and improving the flow of traffic. The rules in place are fine. What is missing is the proper enforcement of those rules.


If You Can’t Track, Add Another Job
Susan Ousley, 

Does anyone know if DMV got the go-ahead to require to issue ID's to school kids, as it asked?


Chief Ramsey’s Terrorism Problem
Nick Keenan, Shaw, 

Last week was “Police Week,” where officers from all over the country converge on DC to honor their comrades killed in the line of duty. Predictably, this year's proceedings focused on September 11, the deadliest day in the history of American law enforcement. What was somewhat surprising was that Chief Ramsey, who has never been media-shy, was virtually invisible in the proceedings. He had nothing to say to any of the local papers or TV stations covering the event.

Ramsey is a smart guy, and he knows this is dangerous territory for him. His anti-terrorism credentials are spotty at best. He has been a staunch supporter of Leroy Thorpe, personally insisting that the Department's resources be used to advance Thorpe's political agenda. Leroy's outrageous behavior has made him locally famous for years, but he achieved international notice on September 11, when he gave an interview saying that it was a “great day,” that the terrorist attacks were justified, and that America deserved to be attacked. The story was picked up by news services and ran in papers around the country and internationally. I spoke with Leroy in November, and I can report that he has not changed his view on the matter. Ramsey is smart enough to know that this would not fly with his brethren in blue, and kept his head low.


Cab Questions
Dru Sefton, 

I'm a newbie to riding taxis and I'm confused. Why do bunches of cabs have little signs on top that read TAXI CALL 911? Sometimes that is also painted on the side. I assume the emergency operators have better things to do than dispatch cabs. Also, regarding cab costs: I have a weekly appointment that takes me from my office at Connecticut and L to a building across from the zoo. It's a straight shot up Connecticut at 11:50 a.m. I have paid $6.90, $7.90, and $8.60. For the same exact ride, same exact traffic, same exact route. Like I said, I'm confused.


UDC Commencement Exercise
Kenneth Howard, DC Tuition Assistance Program, 

Forwarded E-mail from Marian D. Smith, “Last weekend I attended the commencement graduation exercise at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with my daughter, a freshman FAMU student. The weekend before we volunteered, were volunteered, and worked the commencement graduation exercise of The University of the District of Columbia. As we were sitting in the audience at UMES my daughter said you know you would expect so much more from UMES in comparison to UDC. She said that UDC's was a class act. So much attention to detail. and organization. From flowers, to the facility, to the extra quality student robes, the reverence and respect given to each graduate. The patience and respect given from the students after waiting in the dark underground standing up for two hours. It even started on time. With all the negative and stereotypical portrayals of DC people and UDC as a University she was actually moved and said she felt tears. Thus started a conversation between mother and daughter.

“The conversation topic went like this. At UDC we saw African Americans with pants on their buttocks with belts, dress pants and no jeans, dress shoes no Nikes or Jordan's, no hootchies and no T and A's. We saw young men finding chairs for pregnant women, we saw concerned and supportive graduates. We saw unity and pride. We saw ironed robes and hoods carefully displayed. We saw and heard directions followed. We didn't hear one word of profanity. We were waiting for the DC people to show up. We saw Asians, Indians, Africans, Caucasians, and African Americans as one. We saw a community. The details, souvenir bookmarks, commencement volunteers with extra hoods and caps. The silence respect given when the colors were presented. We heard a student speech, not in Ebonics but from a young woman that you hope to see as a teacher or a political leader. She even remembered and acknowledged those that helped her to stand on the platform. She was an inspiration for every grandmother raising a grand child, single mother, working mother and father, or just being 84 years young earning an Associates degree. . . . Please extend our greatest thanks, respect and love to all at UDC. Their labor did not go unnoticed and it will not go unrewarded. Thank them for our future.”


McKinney Act Funds
Sharon Grindle, 

The DC Housing Finance Agency (HFA) is requesting applications for the use of $4,000,000 in McKinney Act funds from tenant groups and organizations developing affordable housing for very low-income residents in Washington. McKinney Act loans are intended for use by groups that may lack the financial resources necessary to pay for the initial costs of planning and undertaking an affordable housing initiatives. The funds may be used to purchase apartment buildings by tenant organizations; to develop affordable housing for persons with special needs such as the elderly, the homeless, the physically challenged, and persons recovering from substance abuse; to pay for pre-development and development soft costs, acquisition and operating deficit guarantees; to supplement loans to existing projects for enhancements and deferred maintenance; and to purchase buildings under the District’s First Right of Refusal law.

The HFA has used McKinney Act funds to finance projects that include Border Babies, Neighbor’s Consejo, Efforts from Ex-Convicts, Access Housing, Inc., South East Veterans Center, The Riley Cheeks House, Inc., and Fairmont I and II Tenant Association. The Housing Finance Agency will make three-year McKinney loans based on the project’s needs. Historically, loans have ranged from $7,500 to $300,000. The interest rate is 2% below the prime lending rate plus a 1% loan origination fee. McKinney Act loans underwritten in-house and approved by the Board of Directors.


National Jewish Museum Moving
Diana Altman, 

On June 17, 2002, as a consequence of the recent sale of the B'nai B'rith Building, the B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum's collections will be leaving their current location. Plans are being developed for a new enlarged museum to be established in the Washington, DC, area within the next few years. As an interim measure, a gallery of artifacts from the B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum will be installed within B'nai B'rith International's new headquarters at 2020 K Street, NW. The Klutznick National Jewish Museum Collection and Gallery at B'nai B'rith will be a 1,600-square-foot display area, flanked by additional conference areas that may be used for a variety of collaborative cultural programs, lectures, and conferences. Having served Washington audiences since 1957, “The Klutznick” at 1640 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, will remain open through 5:00 p.m., Sunday, June 17.

The interim gallery will be available for viewing on a limited basis by advance reservation only. Viewings of the B'nai B'rith Collection may be arranged Monday-Thursday (12:00-3:00 p.m.) and Sunday (selected times), in all cases by appointment only. Individuals and tours may hear information about visiting by calling 857-6513 or by E-mailing The interim establishment of a gallery of highlights from the National Jewish Museum represents the first stage of long-term plans for an enlarged national Jewish museum in the nation's capital. The artifacts displayed in the gallery will chronicle the heritage and contributions of Jewish people throughout the world. The new gallery will feature key objects of the renowned Joseph B. and Olyn Horwitz permanent collection of Judaica. Interpretive groupings will dramatize important elements of Jewish life and festival cycles. Anchoring the new gallery will be President George Washington's letter to the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island, written in 1790, which pledges the United States Government's commitment to give “to Bigotry No Sanction.” The letter is remarkable as an unconditional pledge of religious freedom by the country's first president. Another prominent feature will be the Archives Reading Room for scholars and other researchers. Researcher access to the B'nai B'rith Archives-which represents the development of Jewish communities all over the world-will add a new dimension to B'nai B'rith's mission of disseminating information about Jewish communities.


Wingate Apartments Organized
Andre Johnson, 

The residents of the 700-unit Wingate Apartment complex have organized and elected officers to start the process of purchasing the complex from New York slum landlords. The building has been cited for hundreds of city code violations and is facing possible fines for violation of federal health and safety codes and civil rights violations. Residents of The Wingates, led by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Robin Denise Ijames, have retained a major legal and venture capital team to assist in preparing the package to purchase the building, which has numerous health and safety conditions, and will be the target of an exclusive news report, to be released in the next few weeks.

Wingates has been home to many prominent African Americans including Marvin Gaye, Tammy Terrell, Eugene Kinlow, and Arthur H. Jackson, Jr. The complex's basement is flooded with water, and the building is contaminated with rodents. A major event is scheduled for mid June to announce tenants plans to purchase the building. Media request should be directed by E-mail to Andy


Drivel in themail
Wynn Wagen, 

Re: your comment in the latest themail, “Here's my rule: boosters never built a great city; great cities are built by their critics.” What drivel! This sounds like nothing more than a self justification to snivel. How do critics “build” anything? By their very nature, they must criticize that which already exists. They do not create new items, new cities; they only respond to what others have done.

While I also value the need for critics to highlight problems and injustices, it does not mean there is no place for the boosters. Both have their place in building a great city. Just don't favor one over the other. Yin and yang.


John Whiteside, 

Boosters don't build a great city. That wasn't my point. People who hate everything about a place don't make it great either, though. Without some basic pride in a place, there's no point in continuing. To elaborate on my point about my trip to Dallas: one of my hosts was an architect who is responsible for many of the new urbanist developments in that city that have created the beginnings of walkable neighborhoods with housing, retail, and office space designed about transit that make it possible for people to get out of their cars and live like city dwellers — something we take for granted here but which is a radical idea there. It was refreshing to spend time with someone who likes the place he lives, saw one of its big problems, and built a career around improving it.

I just think it's healthy to stop and consider what's good now and then. It gives us greater incentive to fix what's bad. I remember when I first moved to DC and was reading themail's predecessor, dcstory. Early on someone complained that recycling was back, but was upset that recycling was collected the same day as trash. This is something most people would call “convenient.” I commented to my housemate at the time, “there's not a silver lining that people here can't find a good dark cloud for.” Having come from a city whose citizens tend to love their town beyond all reason just because it's theirs (Boston), the difference here is startling, and I think one of DC's big handicaps.


Problem Solving
Paul Dionne, 

I for one don't object to constructive criticism, but a lot of people in DC are either not constructive about their criticism or want to put their ideas out there but not back them up with personal action. Let's face it, we are a city of managers with far too few people to manage. Everyone has an idea on how to solve our shared problems. Problem is few are willing to do the hard work necessary to actually implement those solutions. Their solution “The city should do XXX” or “Mayor Williams and the Council need to do XXX” When do we ever hear people say “I will do XXX?”

Those who help solve our city's problems in little ways don't get credit for it. For example, I have resisted buying a car because of how bad parking in my neighborhood is. After all, why shouldn't I enjoy the freedom that comes with car ownership that my neighbors enjoy? See how I have contributed to solving a problem my neighborhood faces? Do you think I ever get thanked for my personal sacrifice on my neighbors' behalf? So maybe instead of continuing to blather in my ear how bad parking in my neighborhood is my neighbors should be thanking me for not making it as bad as it could be! And of course, when the day comes that I do buy a car, instead of people giving me credit for the years of car-free life I have lived they will blame me for contributing to the congestion.

Here is a criticism from an infrequent critic. If you want to ease parking in your neighborhood, ease overall traffic, save the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce the wear and tear on our city's streets, reduce noise pollution, decrease pedestrian accidents, and (if you are a big liberal) undermine capital imperialism then just sell your car! If you have a simpler solution that will solve that many problems I am open to hearing it. In the meantime I would like to see our frequent critics tell us what they are doing to solve each of the last three problems they have cited and inform us of their personal sacrifices which contribute to a solution.


Finger Pointing
Ross Weber, 

While I completely agree that the failure to question and perhaps criticize leads to complacency, I wonder if such pride should be taken in the many rants and raves posted here. The District and its leaders surely have their problems and it is certainly important to point them out. Just as important and what I find alarmingly lacking here are solutions. Yes, we can point out issues of concern, but only if we are willing to take part in resolving them with and on behalf of our leaders, will anything get accomplished.

Something's wrong with DPW? Call up Councilmember Schwartz's crew and ask what you can do to help solve the problem. Apply the appropriate leader to your problem and get active . . . not just on this board, but on the streets and in the halls of government. We cannot simply throw up our hands, bitch, moan, and expect miracles. Should we complain? Of course. But you have to act on that complaint and in so doing, strive to solve problems that effect the entire District.


City Bashing
Victor Chudowsky, 

Lately I've noticed an unhealthy amount of denigrating of other US cities in themail — Dallas a week ago, now Cleveland, Kansas City and Indianapolis by our moderator. What gives? We're starting to sound like a bunch of Europeans. Granted, these cities don't have the advantage of having been planned by a Frenchman, are not the capital of the United States, and they don't have billions in federal dollars pumping up their economies. They may be not as nice to look at from the window of your rental car. But I think this is nothing more than typical “inside the beltway” elitism. Believe it or not, there are real communities of people in Dallas, despite the fact that everyone drives there. They build a sense of community primarily through their churches and schools, rather than their professions or their Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. And you would always drive there, too, once you've been through a Texas summer.

I love it here, but I've spent time in other places, including Kansas City and Dallas. I'm sure if you looked at some basic quality of life indicators most midwestern cities would come out better than DC. Do these cities have more than 200 murders a year? What is the crime rate? How high are the taxes? High school dropout rate? Are these cities overrun by rats? Are they clean? What is the air and water quality? Can a person of moderate income afford to live there? Are their leaders or local governments corrupt? And there are less measurable indicators, like how friendly people are, and how slow and relaxed the pace of life is. I've never met anyone in the Midwest who works 60-70 hours a week, something which is common here. I know this sounds cliched, but I have friends in a suburb of Topeka who don't lock their front door. They would never have long discussions like this one over how superior their city is to somewhere else, they just like it there. So please, boost or criticize DC all you want, but not at the expense of other places full of nice people.


Good Government and Self Government
George S. LaRoche, 

Many of us make the point that responsible and accountable local government is an intrinsic part of the full democracy and full citizenship at issue in statehood or retrocession. Every government has at least some corruption. Every government, at some time in its history, has included at least one legislator or chief executive who was dismally ineffective, stupid, or outright corrupt. Frequently, the corruption is dispersed and ongoing. And it's unrealistic to hope we'll ever see and end to plain old stupidity and irresponsible, opportunistic pipe dreaming. But if we're not really talking about a government in the first place, if all we're talking about is an administrative agency for another government, and if the true government is not wholly and intrinsically accountable to the people in the place we're talking about (even if there were ersatz “representation” in it), then we're not talking about “good government.” This doesn't excuse all irrationality and corruption we find in the administrative agency, but it explains some of it and it also explains why it's harder to root it out and get rid of it.

The home rule “government” of DC is a unique federal administrative agency. It was established to administer a colony (“colony” as a matter of its legal/constitutional status). And the home rule government behaves as most colonial governments behave. For instance, as a political scientist named Mohamed Halfani noted a couple years ago, though members of the home rule government run on largely local and populist themes in order to get elected, once elected, they turn their attention to satisfying and meeting the demands of Congress instead of those who elected them. The same thing is seen in every colony (and, by the way, in all the federal capitals which those who support only representation in the national legislature look to as models of what should happen in DC, with the same results as we see in DC). Degrees of this dynamic sometimes reflect base venality in those seek these offices, but the dynamic will infect anyone who wants to be part of such a colonial government and make it hard — if not impossible — for them to be truly responsive to their constituents. The colonial status of the District also helps explain why it's unlikely that the corruption which themail has done so much to identify and describe will be rooted out; if the corruption comes from the Crown's own minions, it's untouchable by all but the Crown.

So your suggestion that there's a “belief that voting rights are an inherent right that needn't be earned and shouldn't be dependent on our local government's good behavior,” is a little beside the point. I hold this belief, but it's only a footnote to a more comprehensive legal/constitutional analysis of the District. First, of course, it's a recipe for irresponsibility to sever voting rights from the entire remainder of political life. Voting is only about two percent of political existence, which is comprised of local organizing, education, party building, platform shaping, campaigning, lobbying, drafting of legislation, etc. — all of which are of the essence of citizenship. But this then helps show that good government follows from full citizenship. Judging good government before you've got all the rights of citizenship which lead to good government and before that “government” is truly a government (and is not just an administrative agency of another government — the majority of which is not accountable to you), is like being judged on your swimming before you're in the water. Just as it's a precondition to swimming that you be in the water, it's a precondition to good government that you have the powers of true citizenship to frame one and that it be a true government when you're done. Then we can judge it as a government. But, as I said, this doesn't excuse the corruption or plain stupidity of the colonial administrators. Even though the have to split their accountability between those who elect them and those who rule them, they still owe a duty to those who elect them, and you are correct to call it negligence if this is overlooked or subsumed in what some might call a larger battle.



Car for Sale
Roy Kaufmann, 

Brand new 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD, steel blue, 10K miles, extended 50K/5yr warranty (retails for $1500)! Circumstances require sale. $26,500.00. Call 328-6666 or E-mail


Paul Dionne, 

Per one reader's recommendation, I am dropping the price: 800 MHz computer with 256 mg RAM, 30G HD, 17" monitor, network connection, and printer. Good computer in great shape. I move to Africa in June 1 through December and am taking my lap top instead. $550 for entire system.



Instant Camera
Sid Boot, 

For family reunion in July, I am seeking a new or used instant camera to rent or buy, and film. Suggestions appreciated.



Volunteers Wanted to Learn about Political Campaigning
William Aston, 

A coalition of organizations and activists is seeking District residents to participate in The Voters Empowerment Project, which will provide training for residents in organizing political campaigns, lobbying for causes, and how campaigns are run. Volunteers will receive classroom instruction, homework, assigned to campaigns, and one-on-one counseling. Senior Citizens and Students are welcome. Contact The Voter Empowerment Project at 271-5522.



Trash Hauler
Sid Booth, 

In reply to Phil Shapiro's message: haven't used him, but a guy with whom I spoke has run an ad for years in the services section of the NW Current. I was going to use him but found a charitable outlet for my used goods.


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